Grant Hill may be best known as a NBA superstar, but when he’s not honing his skills on the court, you might just catch him in a heated game of Madden Football with his teammates, playing Super Mario Brothers with his daughter, or browsing virtual art collections on the Web. Grant told us how tech has helped him stay in touch with his family on the road, relax in his downtime, and promote important causes like the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, where he recently became an honorary chairman.
Digital Trends (DT): I understand you’re a gamer, so I’ve got to ask: do you ever play any of the NBA video games in your spare time?
I don’t necessarily play any of the basketball games, but I play the football games. Not often, but from time to time with teammates, when we’re on the road. It just amazes me to see the technology, and the advances in technology from when I was a little kid and bought my first Atari.
(DT): What have you been playing a lot of lately?
It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’ve been playing, on the Nintendo DS, Super Mario Brothers. That’s a game that my daughter likes, but it’s such an old school game that I remember playing it back in high school and the early years of college. It’s kind of fun to relive that, and I’m actually better now than I was then.
(DT): Do you have any other systems?
We have the Wii. We have the PlayStation 3. We have the Xbox. We have them all. We’re videogamed up!
(DT): You mentioned your daughter playing video games. A lot of parents worry about their kids playing videogames as a substitute for a sport. As a pro athlete and father, how do you feel about your own kids picking up a videogame controller instead of a basketball or a football?
I don’t have a problem with it. I did it as a kid and still came out OK, and I think [my daughter] will as well. I think when anybody gets a little obsessed with something, and they get to the point where that’s all they do, that’s where it becomes a problem. My daughter, she’s pretty good. She’s active, she’s outdoors, she plays sports. She’s smart, she likes to read and she’s very inquisitive. And you know what? She likes to play. And she plays her little video games and there is a happy balance there.
(DT): As a pro athlete, do you ever think professional video gaming will ever reach the same level as professional sports, as a spectator activity?
I would say probably not. But I do think that with the technology and with the advances in these games, they’re almost life-like. I mean, I thought that when ColecoVision came out, that was life-like. I think real sports are so big and so powerful that they attract people young and old. It’s hard to think that [pro video gaming] would surpass that, but it may come close some day. Who knows?
(DT): You’re obviously on the road a lot when you’re playing ball, and I also know you’re very close with your family. Do you use technology to keep in touch with them from the road?
All the time. Cell phones, e-mailing on the laptop, we have Apple computers so we use the camera that comes on the computers to have visual conversations between me and my daughters and my wife. There are so many things, so many ways, when we travel, to stay in contact. Or even in our own home. It just makes life that much easier.
(DT): Do you use gadgets to relax and kick back on the road when you have downtime?
I use my iPhone to listen to music, which allows me time to prepare for games, get me in the right state of mind, and also relax in between games. One thing about being in the NBA is that you have a bunch of gadgets that surround you, and guys who are always looking for the latest. You’re constantly exposed to what’s new and what’s out there.
(DT): Is there kind of a competitive atmosphere to see who has the latest and greatest?
Some guys take it to that point where they get competitive. Shaquille O’Neill is my roommate, and he had to be the first to get the iPhone last year. He called Steve Jobs, and Steve had one sent to him a week before it came out. I’m not that obsessive. But it’s fun for guys who come into the locker room or on the plane with a gadget that no one else has.
(DT): You mentioned you have an iPhone, do you have the 3G model yet?
Nah, I was on vacation [when it came out], so I didn’t get a chance. I actually just got [the one I have] at the end of our season. But I love it, and I can’t imagine that there’s a new one with even more.
(DT): I understand you have a sizable collection of African American art. Do you ever use the Internet to find new pieces for your collection, or to see what’s going on out there with art?
In terms of acquiring art and researching artists, communicating with various galleries, it makes it a lot easier. You can talk to somebody at a gallery, photos can be sent instantly, you don’t need to worry about sending them in the mail, or getting lost in the mail. You can research, you don’t have to go to libraries or look at various art books. You can get all that information right in front of your computer. It actually makes it easier to get more information in a shorter period of time.
(DT): Do you think the Web had played a role in bringing attention to your own collection and your charitable causes like the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation? Has it had a role in helping you achieve those charitable goals?
The Internet allows you to get out whatever you want to get out. So, for a public figure it’s vitally important. It’s sort of revolutionized the way that we market ourselves, but also the way we serve the public when it comes to information about our various interests.
(DT): You were honored alongside your wife as an honorary chairman of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Could you tell us a little bit more about that organization, what it does, what you’ll be doing?
My wife and I collect art. So, as a part of this Art for Life event that took place in the Hamptons last month, we were asked to co-host and raise as much money as we could for this wonderful charity. There are many different venues in terms of art, and an appreciation of art [is important], whether it be a recording artist, poetry, or literature. There are so many different fields, that it’s important to convey that message to our youth and to people in general. We’re just honored to be a part, and we think it’s important.
Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation helps expose disadvantaged urban youth to the arts through grants, exhibitions and mentoring. The ninth annual Art for Life fundraiser, in which Tamia and Grant Hill served as honorary chairs, raised money through live & silent auctions of unique art & luxury items. Readers can find our more through the organization’s Web site at www.rushphilanthropic.org.